OPEC, hedge funds and the Sistine Chapel


The most important Events in the Market Today:

  1. Oil is extending rally as investors wait for OPEC meeting on Thursday
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  3. Dollar creeps up off 6-month lows
  4. British pound slides as U.K. threatens to quit Brexit talks
  5. Bitcoin tops $2,100 for the first time!

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OPEC story

The story begins in the summer of 2016. Mohammad Barkindo had met Ed Morse in the Vatican’s Sistine Chapel.

It was unusual encounter which led to a later numerous important events.

The chat between two of them, at an energy industry event held in the Chapel, has caused OPEC to reshape the way of doing its businesses. It changed the way OPEC deals with hedge funds. And as well its influence in global oil market.

Barkindo, having had to deal with an oil price slump of that time, told Morse that OPEC aims to understand the way financial players worked in the oil markets.

“It was at the Vatican that we first discussed the idea of OPEC reaching out to the financial players in the oil markets.” (Barkindo)

“The world of oil has changed, including the fundamentals and its dynamics. And so must OPEC.”

He said Morse helped in organising a meet up for OPEC officials with hedge funds at the end of 2016.

“We went further to break the Berlin Wall with tight oil producers and met them in Houston in March.” (Barkindo said for Reuters)


Khalid al-Falih and his team


In different locations and meetings, Khalid al Falih and his team held discussions with hedge funds. They also met top trading houses Vitol and Litasco in Vienna in November, before the previous OPEC meeting. (According to some non-official news.)

Falih’s predecessor, Saudi oil minister Ali al-Naimi, often took advice from oil market consultants, but also often gave advice to hedge funds saying: “Leave the market alone”.

Now the situation has changed.

“As the market got increasingly financialised, the Saudis and others at OPEC understood and accepted it is not just driven by fundamentals and decided it was worth engaging with those who move the market short-term.” (Reuters)


Whatever it takes

Observing the past two months, Falih has couple times used the phrase by Mario Draghi, from his successful bid to defend the euro.

OPEC will do “whatever it takes”, to reduce the oil glut, says Falih.

Hedge funds bought firmly into the oil market late last year. When it became apparent OPEC is going to cut production. They have heavily sold those positions in recent weeks, stalling a recovery in oil prices near $50 a barrel.

“It is exceptionally important for producers to understand the behaviour of financial market players and what they think about future price trends.”

This time OPEC will definitely do whatever it takes to achieve the kind of equilibrium, and stability in global Oil market.




OPEC and non-OPEC dedicated to restoring OIL market stability



Bringing global inventories down


Mohammad Barkindo, OPEC secretary-general, saying that all OPEC and non-OPEC oil producers are taking part in a bringing the global stability to the Oil market.

Speaking in the UAE, he said agreement data in March is showing better conformity by the oil producers than in February.

“OPEC and non-OPEC producers agreed in December to cut supplies for six months. Helping lift oil prices to about $55 a barrel after a two-year slump. OPEC will review policy for the second half of this year at a May 25 meeting.”(Reuters)

Any decision taken in this field would be brought up to maintain good interest of all producing and consuming countries. He didn’t say whether the agreement would be extended for another half year. But he promised all the resolutions will help the OIL market stability.


Oil market Facts


Oil steadied on Wednesday. After OPEC said it was committed to eroding a global supply. Overhang that has dogged markets since 2014, but with U.S. output and inventories rising, analysts said prices looked vulnerable. (Yahoo finance)

The oil price got an early lift from comments by Mohammad Barkindo.

Brent crude futures LCOc1 were up 5 cents at $54.94 a barrel at 0908 GMT, while U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) futures CLc1 were up 3 cents at $52.44 a barrel.

“Is sentiment on the oil market now taking a negative turn again? Looking at the latest price reactions, one might conclude that the only reason for the previous price rise was the expectation of further production cuts on the part of OPEC,” (Commerzbank strategist Carsten Fritch’s comment.) (Reuters)

“After all, the oil price is dismissing reactions to the factors which would normally sustain it. Ever since the Saudi oil minister (Khalid) al-Falih put at least something of a dampener on such expectations.”

OPEC and other producers such as Russia have agreed to cut output by almost 1.8 million bpd during the first half of 2017.



U.S. Impact on oil supplies


Speaking about politics, U.S. President Donald Trump ordered examination of whether the elevation of sanctions against Iran was in the United States’ national security interests.

Most of U.S. sanctions against Iran were lifted in late 2015 under a nuclear deal. Letting Tehran to more than double its crude exports over 2016. This move just added a bit to the global oversupply.

U.S. markets remain heavily oversupplied, as well as the global markets.

Although crude inventories fell by 840,000 barrels in the week to April 14 to 531.6 million barrels. They held near record highs, while gasoline stocks rose by 1.4 million barrels as refinery runs increased by 334,000 bpd.


Solving the problem


“Unless the (EIA) data shows something drastically different, this report should cause a severe dent in the bullish case (for oil prices),” said Sukrit Vijayakar, director of energy consultancy Trifecta. (Reuters)

Restoring the OIL market inventories and the unlikely trends which are increasing every day would be a serious deal. The enormous supplies of oil from U.S. part, and the prices downward trend in global markets are making a fuss and ruining the stability of this resource.

It is represented as a huge problem, as well as on global level, mainly for OPEC countries. Whose aim is to control their oligopoly over Oil supplies.